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Double Bind

  • is the feeling of being torn or pulled in two directions at the same time
  • can take place in a crisis of faith, vocation, or love
  • occurs, from time to time, to those on the spiritual journey
  • cannot be resolved on the same level of consciousness on which the crisis arose  

  • MC: 19-22
  • TS: 44
  • FG: 46 

You cannot know the angst of the dilemma and the anxiety that someone is going through when they have a spiritual problem that involves moving to the next phase of their spiritual lives unless you have been there. They are at a crossroads and do not know which way to go. This is classically called a double bind. This is a familiar part of the spiritual journey. You are in a situation that God cannot heal without your ongoing struggle to do the right thing. The double bind is when a spiritual director may be especially helpful. The resolution dawns when the tension of the crisis moves you to a new level of consciousness where the opposites are then seen as complimentary.

Related Concepts




The double bind is experienced when a person feels torn in two directions at the same time; two opposing foci demand one’s total adherence and both seem to be God’s will. The consequence is turmoil. People on the spiritual journey regularly find themselves in double binds, which advances the process of detachment from self as the journey proceeds.

The double bind also occurs when forced to make a choice in which you do not know which way to go. In this situation, you need to seek advice. The Spirit can also use something concrete, like a written or spoken message, to enlighten the afflicted person or at least calm their fears. Through the anguish and tension of the double bind, God moves us to a higher level of consciousness where the opposites are resolved and integrated.

Rational consciousness is the world of opposites. Intuitive and still more unitive levels of consciousness is the world of genuine interior freedom, peace, and boundless compassion for those locked into seemingly hopeless conflicts.


 Reflection: Listening

The double bind feels like being pulled in two directions at the same time. Both options appear to be equally good or even necessary choices to make.

Reflection: Reflecting

How will you decide? Who or what might help you perceive the right choice in the particular situation?

Reflection: Responding

Be prepared to wait in anguish and confusion. Wait for God’s deliverance with gratitude and trust.